9th October 2012
Link reblogged from John's Links with 1 note
One of the researchers’ assumptions is that if you were designing a nervous system for humans living in the ancestral environment — with the aim that it accurately represent the world around them — the right type of error to minimize would be relative error, not absolute error. After all, being off by four matters much more if the question is whether there are one or five hungry lions in the tall grass around you than if the question is whether there are 96 or 100 antelope in the herd you’ve just spotted.
The STIR researchers demonstrate that if you’re trying to minimize relative error, using a logarithmic scale is the best approach under two different conditions: One is if you’re trying to store your representations of the outside world in memory; the other is if sensory stimuli in the outside world happen to fall into particular statistical patterns.